Cyna's Reviews > Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
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did not like it

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WARNING WARNING. UNPOPULAR OPINION INCOMING.

This book made me really fucking mad.

I'll admit, I was a little leery of Stormdancer from the start - Japanese steampunk sounds cool, but coming from a white western author, the chances of problematic weeaboo fuckery are high. Exoticization. Romanticization. Plain old appropriation. Yet for some reason, I didn't really peg Stormdancer as a weeaboo outing. I don't know why. There was no good reason, and yet, I expected Kristoff to be a scholar of some sort, or at least, to do some very in-depth, scholarly research, borne of a deep interest in, and respect for, Japanese culture. And while even that could have also potentially yielded something problematic, at least it would have been sincere. What I thoroughly did NOT expect to get was a book informed by fucking Wikipedia and anime, set in Japan for the sake of novelty. That came as a genuine shock. And a dramatic rise in blood pressure. WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK?

The thing is, that Wikipedia part? You can kinda tell. I mean, the first hundred pages or so of Stormdancer, basically until the airship crashes, are a chore to wade through, mostly because of the Wikipedia-esque info dumps. It takes almost exactly half of those pages to make any progress on the plot. The first fifty are just about showing off the world and detailing every little aspect of it, which is why it takes like twelve paragraphs for Yukiko and her father to walk down a street: we have to hear about the architecture, detail the clothing being worn (because we're using Japanese terms here, and not many readers will know offhand what a fucking hakama looks like), and explain the exact geographical setting, right down to which rivers cross where, and the ~exotic smells~ in the air, even though none of it is actually relevant to anything that's going on at the moment. I understand wanting to set the scene and acquaint readers with the world, but Jesus Herbet Christ, get on with it already. Work this stuff in to the action. Make me not want to put the book down out of sheer boredom. I mean, I haven't even gotten the chance to get angry yet.

Making the world-building harder to parse are the Japanese words and terms strewn throughout the descriptions, most of which assume a familiarity with the culture that many readers just won't have. I had to break out the Google more than once to give myself a better mental image of what was going on, and though many of the terms aren't exactly vital to the story, it was still annoying as hell. I want to be able to see this shit in my head, to get what's going on, and it doesn't help when half of the words are in Japanese just for the flavor of it. It's one thing when a word doesn't have an English analog; it's another when you're including easily translatable and even borrowed words, like "sarariman" (seriously? it's "salary-man" or even just "businessman", kthnx), in their romaji form just to make the story seem more ~authentic~. At the very least it's unnecessarily confusing.

There is a glossary in the back of the book that would have been quite helpful to know about while in the midst of those first fifty pages, but if you're an e-reader like me, you wouldn't have realized it's there until you actually made it to that page...just after the story has ended. Perhaps print readers will be able to make better use of it.

But blah blah blah, detail-heavy writing, I can skim past that. My only issue was boredome until I started noticing all of the shit got wrong. Then my head began hitting the desk. Repeatedly.

And okay, preface: I'm not an expert on Japan, nor am I Asian. I've never studied the country or the language formally. I've got little knowledge outside of what I learned in my own weeaboo phase, from, yes, mostly manga and anime. And YET I still came across glaring errors, repeated errors, stupid errors, errors that made it impossible to read through a conversation without wanting to strangle someone, and errors that lead to questions about some very basic assumptions of the book.

Let's start with my primary nails-on-a-chalkboard issue, the usage of the words "hai" and "sama", shall we? Here are a few examples of these words in action in Stormdancer:

Sama:
"That is more than fair." [...] "Ameterasu bless your kindness, sama."
"I want for nothing. Thank you, sama."
"He slew Boukyaku, young sama. The sea dragon who consumed the island of Takaiyama."
"Honor to you, great sama."
"What is Raijin song, sama?"
"Forgiveness, sama."
"Apologies, sama."

...and so on and so forth.

Hai:
"These cloudwalkers were men of the kitsune clan, hai?"
"I have no doubt of your success. The man who stood beside my father as he slew the last nagaraja of Shima will not be trouble by a simple thunder tiger, hai?"
"You must keep it secret." [...] "It is a gift, hai, but it is not one to be squandered..."
"The solitude is pleasant, hai?"
"I can get into the trees, hai."
"Just deck-hands on a sky-ship, hai?"

...etc.

And both together, for a double-slap to the face of any immersion you've managed to scrounge up:
"Sama, please. Enough for one day, hai?"


headdesk

That's not how you use those, either of those, come ON now. "Sama" is a suffix, an honorific. It goes at the end of someone's name (ex: Masaru-sama), or title, or profession, to denote respect or a higher social status. You NEVER use it by itself, it isn't a stand in for "sir", or "lord", and in fact, the included glossary explicitly acknowledges this, so how the fuck this managed to remain intact through editing I have no fucking idea.

Similarly, "hai" is not a one-to-one translation of "yes", or "right". A more accurate translation is "I have understood what you just said", and it's only used to answer a question or a request. You don't stick it on the end of the sentence to rhetorically prompt confirmation. Believe it or not, there are actually Japanese words for that (well, not the "rhetorical part"), like "ka" or "desu", but Kristoff doesn't make use of those ad nauseum, just the jarringly, tellingly wrong "hai".

This is Weeaboo 101 people, we should not even have to be talking about this, especially if these characters are and are speaking Japanese.

Except...other potential "errors" bring that last statement into question. Are the characters in Stormdancer speaking Japanese? Seeing as how the book is set in Japan, I went into the story operating on the assumption that they were, and that it was being "translated" by the author to English for our benefit. One would think that this is the case, that characters in Japan would be saying Japanese words, and yet:

"Impure." Yukiko whispered the word [...] It was such a simple thing; two syllables, the press of her lips together, one on another, tongue rolling over her teeth.

"Arashi-no-ko," she heard them whisper.
She could feel Buruu frown in her mind, puzzled by the word's shape.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
She smiled, embarrassed, turning her eyes to the floor.
Storm Girl.

"I lo-"
She kissed him, stood on her tiptoes and threw her arms around his neck and crushed her lips to his before he could finish the sentence. She didn't want to listen to those three awful words, feel them open her up to the bone and see what the lies had done to her insides.


Mmmk. 1) "Impure" in Japanese? Google says "fuketsu". Three syllables, no "press of her lips together", minimal "tongue rolling".

2) If they were actually speaking Japanese? After Buruu asked what the fuck "arashi no ko" meant? Yukiko would have said "arashi no ko", because those are the words for "storm girl*" in Japanese. DUH. How and why Yukiko would have even needed to translate Japanese for the Japanese-speaking tiger is beyond me, and yet, if they are speaking Japanese here, what she just did is completely illogical.

*except that even the translation is sketchy. "Ko" = child, not "girl".

3) "I love you" in Japanese, those "three little words"? "Aishiteru", or "aishiteru yo"/"aishiteru wa". One or two words at best. *Although I'm informed it could also be "kimi ga suki". BUT STILL.

This pretty effectively proved to me that, either by fuck-up or by intent, the characters in the book are speaking English. In Japan. What the fuck? I can't imagine that that was the intent, because it makes no logical sense whatsoever, but even the fuck-up makes the book's narrative frustratingly Eurocentric.

Oh, yeah, and then there's the amalgamative "Asia-land" that Shima ends up reading as. That doesn't help in the slightest. Despite being 99% a fantastical analog of Japan, again whether by fuck-up or intent, bits of other Asian cultures slip in. "Nagaraja", for example, are actually Indian creatures. Likewise, somehow the lotus pollution is threatening the local panda population, even though pandas are indigenous to CHINA, which is, incidentally, NOT JAPAN. The characters also use Chinese expressions of exasperation, even though there are perfectly good and common and available Japanese ones.

And this is just the shit I've come across. Sei, finder of the Chinese slang, came across more errors, which she lists in her very insightful review, and

Syahira has a very detailed analysis of the awkward naming conventions, and Krystle vents her rage about this "omage" to her culture.

You can see why this is problematic, right? The lack of research, the Eurocentric viewpoint, the playing fast and loose with Japanese culture, the smooshing all things Asian into the same story, the same country, because hey, all Asian cultures are all the same, right?

HAHA, NO. No. NONONONONONO. This is not how you write this shit, people. As my friend Shiori put it, Asian cultures are not fucking Sizzler. No, you don't get to help yourself to the shit you like and leave the rest, why the fuck would anyone think that? For the love of god, please, educate yourself before you write about other cultures.

So, yeah, that was...frustrating, putting it mildly. *twitch* It was really, really difficult to put that aside and look at the book, I'll admit, and might be at least part of why I found it impossible to connect with the characters. That being said, I wasn't a huge fan of the plot itself, either.

The book takes FOREVER to get going. Sure, stuff happened here and there, but it seemed like the vvvvvaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast majoooooooority of it was Yukiko and Buruu sitting around doing absolutely nothing...

Read full review at You're Killing.Us.

More Links


Assorted thoughts on Stormdancer:

Linda on the Green-Eyed Asian Love Interest, plus her series of thoughts on Asian fantasy.
- Author Karen Healy & Tumblr pinpoint some of the more problematic aspects of Kristoff's interviews.
- The comments in Linda's review have yielded a very interesting discussion, and several good links on the subject.
- The Book Smugglers review Stormdancer and share their thoughts on their interview with Kristoff, in which he spouts more problematic bullshit.
- Silver Goggles has a funny and wonderful reaction to the inevitable question: "does this mean we're not allowed to write outside our ethnicity?"
- Zoe Marriott discusses the difference between diversity and appropriation.
- Calm Down, It's Only Fantasy: Ladybusiness over at Livejournal has a response to the "Ignorant White Person 101" defense of Stormdancer. This is one of my favorite posts to come out of this whole mess. The response to the predictable "But but other fantasy authors change other (non-minority) cultures for their books, why aren't we riding them? WHAAAAAAAA!" in the comments is an excellent, well thought-out smackdown.
- Finally, for conflicted fans of Stormdancer, behold! How to be a fan of problematic things. Spoiler: it's not that hard.

Meanwhile, there's the continued response from Kristoff, the gist of which being "BUT FANTASY, why should I be held accountable? You're taking it TOO SERIOUSLY."
- The aforementioned Book Smuggler's interview with Jay Kristoff, where he explains that "if you can wrap your head around the idea Shima and Japan might look a lot alike, but aren’t the same place, you’ll have fun."
- The Stormdancer website FAQ, in which Kristoff explains how much he doesn't give a shit if you care that he got shit wrong, because "this is fantasy, folks, not international frackin' diplomacy." Charming.
- A guest post at Fantasy Faction on world-building, with lots of "pros" that not-so-subtly explain why his book is TEH AWESOME and "cons" that casually give the middle finger to and shits on anyone who called him out on his bullshit.
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Reading Progress

July 31, 2012 – Started Reading
July 31, 2012 – Shelved
July 31, 2012 –
page 25
7.72% "pfffffft, did she just call that guy "sama"? No name-sama, no profession-sama, just "sama". Last I heard that was an honorific, not a title."
July 31, 2012 –
page 27
8.33% "Ugh, I gotta say, I'm not a fan of this Englishese style of speaking Kristoff is using here. It's set in Ja_an, presumably they're speaking Japanese, so why do we get random "hai"s at the end of every other sentence? No, it doesn't make it more 'authentic', it just makes it awkward."
August 3, 2012 –
page 35
10.8% "Oh for Christ Jesus sake, the Shoujo River? Really? The GIRL River? I'm sure."
August 3, 2012 –
page 35
10.8% "And please, tell me more about the "exotic" smells the Japanese MC smells in the market of her hometown."
August 3, 2012 –
page 36
11.11% "My god this is boring. I know it's trying to set the scene, but paragraph after paragraph of description and backstory, get on with it!"
August 7, 2012 –
page 49
15.12% "urgh, the Japanglish dialogue is so stilted, it's like reading a fanfic. "Aiya! My head feels like an oni took a shit in it..." HAI HAI HAI."
August 7, 2012 –
page 54
16.67% "*temple rub* her name is literally Yukiko Kitsune. Woooooooooooooooords, they fail me."
August 8, 2012 –
page 58
17.9% "This is never not going to annoy the shit out of me. "It is a gift, hai, but it is not one to be squandered..." NO. Just fucking no, that is NOT how you use that word, that's not how the sentence would be structured, WHY? Just use "yes" for Chrissakes, this is embarassing to read."
August 8, 2012 –
page 60
18.52% ""Without chi, we'd still be a mob of farmer clans feuding in the mud." "Chi" being a sort of fuel, meaning, industrialization. Yeahhhhhh, coming from a western author speaking about Japanese society, that's...not good."
August 9, 2012 –
page 64
19.75% "AHAHAHA WHAT? The polution is threatening the PANDA population in JAPAN? That is quite a fucking feat, seeing as how pandas are native to CHINA."
August 9, 2012 –
page 64
19.75% "AHAHAHA WHAT? The polution is threatening the PANDA population in JAPAN? That is quite a fucking feat, seeing as how pandas are native to CHINA."
August 15, 2012 –
page 173
53.4% "whoa whoa whoa...the Japanese nobility...is importing white slaves...and working them on plantations. o.O ohhhhh, this territory is getting treacherous."
August 15, 2012 –
page 176
54.32% "god, it gets to running along fairly smoothly...and then they start talking. HAI HAI SAMA SAMA. Can we get one conversation, maybe, without those nails touching the chalkboard?"
August 15, 2012 –
page 180
55.56% "You've got to be shitting me. We just warped into the head of a kid spying on Yukiko in the bathouse to get a nice, detailed description of her naked body. Fuuuuuuuck you."
August 17, 2012 –
page 197
60.8% "apparently Yukiko's fighting strategy is to hack at the ankles of giant demons with her short sword while Buruu does most of the work. I cant help but see her as an ankle-biting Chihuahua, which isnt really how I want to envision my protagonist in a battle xD"
August 17, 2012 –
page 212
65.43% ""Impure." Yukiko whispered the word (...) It was such a simple thing; two syllables, the press of her lips together, one on another, tongue rolling over her teeth. Except it's not, because she's not saying "impure" IN ENGLISH, goddammit, because she *is* Japanese, right? Or does the Japanese empire inexplicably speak English in Japan?"
August 21, 2012 –
page 217
66.98% "Jesus fucking Christ. One conversation. Just one fucking conversation, please."
August 21, 2012 –
page 220
67.9% "Wait wait wait. Are you- wha- HOW CAN THE STORM TIGER NOT KNOW WHAT ARASH NO KO MEANS? ARE THEY SPEAKING JAPANESE OR NOT?"
August 24, 2012 –
page 330
100% "How, HOW, can you have the definition of "sama" in your book that explicitly says that it's a "suffix applied to a person's name" and STILL USE IT WRONG? HOW?"
August 24, 2012 –
page 330
100% "But thank fucking Jesus, at least it's over."
August 24, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 233 (233 new)


message 1: by Sen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sen look at all the status updates you've written so far x_x


message 2: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Sanna wrote: "look at all the status updates you've written so far x_x"

If I didn't have GR status updates I would have gnawed through my e-reader in rage by now :(


message 3: by Sen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sen I look forward to your review actually ;]

btw, I changed my name from 'Sanna' to 'Sen'. just letting you know x))


message 4: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Maya wrote: "aww, really? the story didn't work for you either? you got an ARC right? maybe the final version will have some edits ........"

I'm wavering between one and two. The cultural fuckups made it impossible to get immersed, and the blatant male gaze didn't help on the feminist front. The message was heavy-handed, and the story was so basic, it just wasn't worth it :(


message 5: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Maya wrote: "mmh, i saw other reviews talking about some awesome plot twists ... well, I will read it anyway, since i read everything Asian Fantasy-ish xD But I've lowered my expectations a lot. And thanks for ..."

Well, I hope you enjoy it more than I did :)


message 6: by Shiori (new)

Shiori You mentioned my weeaboo Sizzler analogy. ILU ;o;


message 7: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Shiori wrote: "You mentioned my weeaboo Sizzler analogy. ILU ;o;"

I told you I was gonna! It's much better than anything I could come up with :D


message 8: by Shiori (new)

Shiori Ahaha well thank you. And thanks for, y'know, gritting your teeth and reviewing this pile of crap. YOU TOOK ONE FOR THE TEAM THERE, MAN.


message 9: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Shiori wrote: "Ahaha well thank you. And thanks for, y'know, gritting your teeth and reviewing this pile of crap. YOU TOOK ONE FOR THE TEAM THERE, MAN."

Hahaha np. I EXPECT MY MEDAL IN THE MAIL. Actually, mostly I just want to read something good :>


message 10: by Shiori (new)

Shiori Well I'm sure the next volume of Moribi-- oh wait, no, books by actual Asian authors don't sell. I'M SURE THE NEXT WEEABOO BOOK YOU PICK UP WILL BE AMAZING IN COMPARISON. MAYBE.


message 11: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna SOB SOB SOB. ENDLESS LIFE OF READING WEEABOO NOVELS BEGINS.


message 12: by Shiori (new)

Shiori


message 14: by Shiori (new)

Shiori


message 15: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Oh my god I'm keeping that.

WEEABOO SOB TIME.




message 16: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Maya wrote: "hum, I'm still holding my breath hoping for the samas and hais to have disappeared in the final version. Ironically, another honorific, dono (tono), works fine as an equivalent to "sir, lord", if y..."

Right? It's not like it was difficult to find substitutes if he really wanted to make with the weeaboo-speak :/

But I don't think that'll change anything for me. Those interviews vaporized any vestiges of goodwill I had towards the series. That attitude is not cool :/

Ah, fair enough, I hadn't thought of that one.

Meh, I think I'll try and live by my own advice here and stick to getting my Asian fantasy directly from Asians. But I appreciate the Dragon Sword and Wind Child rec! It's on my to-read list!


message 17: by Peter (new) - added it

Peter Koevari Good lord, I am glad I didn't win this novel and have to endure the read.


message 18: by Lex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lex OMG. I'm kinda excited to read this book cause I like anything related to Japan. I'm a big fan of Japanese culture too. And call me weird or whatever but after I read your review I'm still excited cause I want to know if I'll like it or curse it and see the errors of Japanese sentence structures.

I totally agree with you about the "sama" thing. It's not used as a replacement of "sir" or anything. It's just a honorific that is used after a NAME. Or in the title of a person like a princess.


message 19: by Shiori (new)

Shiori Continuing from where we left off...

WEEABOO RAGE TIME!




message 20: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Lexie wrote: "OMG. I'm kinda excited to read this book cause I like anything related to Japan. I'm a big fan of Japanese culture too. And call me weird or whatever but after I read your review I'm still excited ..."

^^; Stormdancer was fairly terrible, and I would definitely recommend a series like Moribito or the one Maya recomended above, Dragon Sword, bother of which are by Asian authors, before Stormdancer.


message 21: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Oh god. YOU DON'T USE SAMA LIKE THAT. I want to read this book, but now I feel like it'd be disrespectful to the part of me that is obsessed with Japanese animes and mangas to do so. ._.


message 22: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Stargirl1234 wrote: "There is nothing more that makes me cringe than the unproper use of japanese honorifics or their culture. Maybe I shouldn't read this???"

If both of those things bother you, then yeah, definitely skip Stormdancer.


message 23: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Stargirl1234 wrote: "@ Kaede. Exactly. Seems my hopes will be dashed for this book :'("

I guess we can't do anything but keep our fingers crossed, ne?


message 24: by Selena (new)

Selena At last someone agrees with me about peppering books with easily-translatable foreign words.

Thank you for the warning. The direct quotes of "-sama" and "hai" usages are enough to make a 3rd year Japanese student shudder.

ありがとうございます


message 25: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Stargirl1234 wrote: "Hopefully. But given the world building and the complete disregard for the proper use of honorifics and the things Cyna pointed out....I may not like this. Seems like only non anime and manga fans ..."

Gah. Someone should invent a machine in which I can forget all my knowledge of Japanese culture and language and be able to sit down and enjoy Stormdancer. Anyone? No?


message 26: by Kaede (last edited Sep 01, 2012 12:01PM) (new) - added it

Kaede Stargirl1234 wrote: "No, sadly I must face the facts. Kristoff didn't do enough reasearch. That or he added the use of sama and hai so much to make it more authentic. But it does sound awkward. That'd be like me going ..."

Research does do wonder.


message 27: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Stargirl1234 wrote: "Selena wrote: "At last someone agrees with me about peppering books with easily-translatable foreign words.

Thank you for the warning. The direct quotes of "-sama" and "hai" usages are enough to m..."


It means thank you. :D Sorry I answered for you, Selena! o_o


message 28: by Kaede (last edited Sep 01, 2012 12:06PM) (new) - added it

Kaede Try Google, and for the Japanese cross-overs, Google translation. LOLOL. I'm kidding. Don't. *gets katana ready*


message 29: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Was it that obvious? *amused*


message 30: by Kaede (new) - added it

Kaede Stargirl1234 wrote: "Yes, she stopped me after class and said she knew I used GT. In hindsight, adding words I could never of known on my own when I didn't even know the word for exquiste in espanol wasn't my best idea."

Lmfao. Shame on you. LOLOLOL. Well, it was a good experience, no?


message 31: by Sen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sen CRAP. you're so brave to post this review!! & that is why I've followed you weeks ago on here ^__^

what did you think of the plot? & the characters?


message 32: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Sen wrote: "CRAP. you're so brave to post this review!! & that is why I've followed you weeks ago on here ^__^

what did you think of the plot? & the characters?"


Sen: I didn't post my full review on here due to the length, but the link at the bottom of the review will take you to the full review at my blog, where I have thoughts on the plot and characters and whatnot.


message 33: by Sen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sen @Cyna: oh, thanks!! :DD I somehow missed the link & all. My bad, I'll read the full review on there, right now. Thanks for pointing it out!


message 34: by Helen (new) - added it

Helen Well, this review confirmed my worst fears...

It would have been okay if culture was twisted - Japanese do it themselves. But I'm not excusing language. If you can't use it properly, don't use it at all. Yes, I might reasent the fact that I had to work my ass off practising kanji for over six hours a day while some upstart throws in a couple words picked from web dictionary in to sound exotic and gets worshipped.

And while a couple of those uses of "hai" are actually valid (though the bottom half is wrong)..."sama" almost had me clawing my eyes out.

Seriously, though, would it have been so difficult to contact a Japanese teacher?


message 35: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Helen wrote: "Well, this review confirmed my worst fears...

It would have been okay if culture was twisted - Japanese do it themselves. But I'm not excusing language. If you can't use it properly, don't use it ..."


This is true, but I feel like there's a difference between someone twisting their own culture, and twisting/conflating cultures that don't belong to them, especially when that's the "selling point" for this novel, you know what I mean? I don't think there would be as much frenzy over the book if it were set in Europe. It hits the trifecta: the bastardization, packaging, and sale of a culture that doesn't belong to you with little to no regard for the culture(s) itself.

But yeah, the language is just a constant reminder of the lack of research, and the lack of research in general speaks to me of a lack of respect/consideration. xD And I can totally understand your frustration, I'm sure lots of people who work/study their asses of to get a culture/language correct would feel the same way.


message 36: by rameau (new) - added it

rameau "I don't know why. There was no good reason, and yet, I expected Kristoff to be a scholar of some sort, or at least, to do some very in-depth, scholarly research, borne of a deep interest in, and respect for, Japanese culture."

This. This to the power of infinity. I know nothing of the culture but I always expect the author to know what the hell they're writing about and do their research if they don't. Faking it belongs in poor fanfics and not in real books. For the love of everything holy, half of the fanfic writers I read do better research than published authors.


message 37: by rameau (new) - added it

rameau Stargirl1234 wrote: "That's really fucking sad when fanfiction writers do better than a published author. "

The only acceptable exception, for me, are the soap fanfics, but even then just knowing the intricacies of the show itself provides a research challenge great enough. Wading through twenty to forty years of soap history for the characters, counting all the deaths, weddings, faked pregnancies etc. etc. keeping those straight in your head and making some sense of them takes more brain power than I care to remember.


message 38: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna rameau wrote: ""I don't know why. There was no good reason, and yet, I expected Kristoff to be a scholar of some sort, or at least, to do some very in-depth, scholarly research, borne of a deep interest in, and r..."

I think a lot of it has to do with motivation? Fanfic writers are by definition fans of the things they're writing about, therefore you can generally expect them to be or to become familiar with the subject. They like it, like learning about it.

Then on the other hand, you have people who are more interested in, say, the aesthetic, than the culture/subject itself...


message 39: by rameau (new) - added it

rameau Cyna wrote: "Then on the other hand, you have people who are more interested in, say, the aesthetic, than the culture/subject itself..."

You're right about fans having more motivation because they're fans, but you'd think someone wanting to get paid for his work would put a little more effort into it. And if you're not a fan of the culture, why write a novel about it?

I've not found a picture I'd want to stare at for six hours (about how long it takes me to read 300 pages). There were other ways he could have painted the scenery. You don't need long paragraphs to show what's going on around the characters and I'm pretty sure if he'd done it correctly I wouldn't have needed an glossary to remember or learn the weaponry. Show a character using nunchaku and then name it and I'll remember it. Describe them over and over without connecting it with an action in a scene and I'll never remmeber it.


message 40: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna rameau wrote: "Cyna wrote: "Then on the other hand, you have people who are more interested in, say, the aesthetic, than the culture/subject itself..."

You're right about fans having more motivation because they..."


You would think, but not always. *shrug* Because nobody's done Japanese steampunk before? Because it'll sell? I'm sure there are plenty of reasons.

True enough. The exposition was one of the worst parts of the book. Definitely made it the most difficult to read.


message 41: by Helen (new) - added it

Helen Cyna wrote: "rameau wrote: "Cyna wrote: "Then on the other hand, you have people who are more interested in, say, the aesthetic, than the culture/subject itself..."

You're right about fans having more motivati..."


Frankly, it more sounds like AU fantasy with steampunk elements than pure steampunk to me. I suppose that Japan is exotic, and maybe it's meant to appeal to anime and manga fans - or people who are interested but don't want to read manga/watch anime.

The irony is, it's anime and manga fans who are calling bullshit...

I'm curious to see how the book will fare in Japan. I'll be watching Amazon.jp reviews...


Alexis Lee YES to everything. My knowledge is mostly from anime/manga and a short semester of japanese classes, and I *too* caught so. Many. Mistakes. They certainly wear you down. It annoyed me that this book was marketed as 'Japanese' steam punk when it would have been better off as a western steampunk


Alexis Lee Sen wrote: "CRAP. you're so brave to post this review!! & that is why I've followed you weeks ago on here ^__^

what did you think of the plot? & the characters?"


If I may *insert opinion here*, the characters and the plot are pretty...crappy. Everyone was just blah. Everything that could have been something was just blah. There isn't much to like about anyone at all, and the plot leaks all over the place. Lots of things are introduced and left alone, and even more stuff exists without ever being explained.
In a word: infuriating. Especially because of what it could have been. It makes me bitterrrrrrrrr.


Seizure Romero "Weeaboo fuckery" almost made me blow my mocha out my nose. It's an iced mocha. That shit hurts.


message 45: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna @Helen - I'm not sure how you differentiate the two (haven't read much steampunk myself), but it's heavy on the industrialization, and it's heavy on the effect of industrialization on lower classes, so I dunno, it seems pretty steampunky to me, maybe just a different angle.

That being said, the Japanese elements are most definitely decorative. And inaccurate. Ironic, indeed.

I would be really curious to hear an actual Japanese person's thoughts on the book, please, let me know if you find any interesting reviews!

@Alexis - I agree! I'm all for cultural diversity, but I think that would be better gotten from POC authors :)

@Cillian - Yes, the language was terrible. It's really just a symptom of a larger problem though: a lack of respect for the culture he's appropriating from, and, for me at least, regardless of whether or not they change the "hai's" and "samas" before it goes to print, the fact that they (and other things) were so carelessly there in the first place will always ruin this book for me.

This reminds me of romance authors who're convinced that a foreigner male lead is the only way to Sexy Land, and even though they're perfectly fluent in English, they intersperse their speeches with Russian/French/German/Portuguese words.

Ugh, I hate that. Like, "Hey, I'm X nationality, do you get that I'm from x? You can tell, because I speak with X words!!" Obnoxious stereotyping >>;

@seizure :D I REGRET NOTHING.


message 46: by Cyna (new) - rated it 1 star

Cyna Cillian wrote: "So, what's the moral of this Japanese farts marathon?
Next time you want to write a story that takes place in some other country that's not yours, do TONS of research, or limit your scenario to you..."


Agonizing research, and then more agonizing over whether or not you got it right, and still be prepared to take your lumps. It's really the least an author can do :D

No I haven't, but it's been rec'd twice now. Maybe someday.


message 47: by Alexis (last edited Sep 07, 2012 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Alexis Lee @Cyna @Cillian: Again, agreed - to the comment about the '-hai's and the '-sama's. The book is 100% americanized for all its Japanese word dropping. I see none of the values or culture that the Japanese honor so much - beyond the grammar, its the way the characters speak/address others and the way they act/make decisions. Its not even remotely Asian.
Take the father-daugther relationship for example. Yukiko was outright rude and whiny to her father in public at the beginning of the story. That is *so* not the way it works - rude is one thing, public is another. I know I once got disciplined in public for being rude to my dad - and Yukiko throws a tantrum instead. Oh boy.
And that bit where she was allowed to just walk away after insulting the group of adults smoking whatever flower it was?
No. Just, no.


message 48: by Stedman (new)

Stedman Oh, god. Thank you for this review. I clicked on this book because Japanese steampunk looked interesting, but if it is written like you have stated, then there's no way I could finish this book. I did study Japanese language formally. I would have probably torn this book apart if I came across this stuff myself.


message 49: by Leelee (new)

Leelee Thanks for the honest review. The cover looks absolutely amazing, but the fact that the series is called "The Lotus War" made me wary of what's written inside... Seriously, how freakin' stereotypical is that title? I know we Asians love our lotus flowers and all, but ugh. Whatever. I like Japanese culture and I adore the steampunk style, however, after seeing some passages from the story... I'll have to pass up on reading this. :/


message 50: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Selena wrote: "Thank you for the warning. The direct quotes of "-sama" and "hai" usages are enough to make a 3rd year Japanese student shudder.

ありがとうございます"


@Cyna: and now you say どういたしまして which means 'you're welcome!

Thanks for the candid opinion. It sounds like the problem could have been avoided, which is sad.


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